Tin Hau Temple (Hong Kong)

Tin Hau Temple

The peaceful Tin Hau Temple, at the western end of Stanley Main St, past a tiny Tai Wong shrine and through the Stanley Plaza shopping complex, stands on a highly propitious Feng Shui site next to Starbucks and McDonald’s on Stanley Promenade in Stanley. The walk going there was worthwhile for the sea views.

Censer (incense burner)

Founded by 1767, it is said to be the oldest building in Hong Kong. In 1942, during the Japanese attack on Stanley, two Japanese bombs hit the temple but did not explode, miraculously saving the crowds of people sheltering there. Since then, the temple has undergone a complete renovation but its interior is still traditional.

There are over 70 temples dedicated to Tin Hau in Hong Kong and this unusually designed temple is, of course, a dedicated place of worship for the goddess of the sea.

It has nearly 20 other eminent gods and goddesses (including Guanyin, Che Kung, Wong Tai Sin, Guan Yu and Hung Shing) uniquely arranged on a bench around the walls, with the goddess Tin Hau in the of center. The temple is especially busy on the 23rd of the 3rd lunar month, the birthday of the goddess.

Wall lined with deities

No visit to Tin Hau Temple is complete without a look at the genuine tiger skin hanging on the wall, said to frighten off evil spirits. Said to weigh 240 pounds, it is 73 inches long and 3 feet high.  In the 1940s, this tiger appeared in Stanley when the local villagers were celebrating with performances of Chinese Opera.

It was shot by Mr Rur Singh, an ethnic Indian policeman, in front of Stanley Police Station in 1942. Singh  presented the skin to the villagers and, since then, it has been exhibited in the Tin Hau Temple for more than half a century.

Tin Hau Temple: 119 Stanley Main St., Stanley, Hong Kong.

How to Get There: From Central’s Exchange Square, take buses No.6, 6A, 6X, 260 or 262. From Causeway Bay’s Tang Lung Street (Corner of Percival Street and Hennessy Road), take green minibus No.40


Murray House (Hong Kong)

The 3-storey Murray House, a masterpiece Classical architecture of the  Victorian Era first completed in the present day business district of Central way back in 1846, is one of the oldest surviving public buildings in Hong Kong. It stood witness to more than a century’s historical vicissitudes in Hong Kong.  Murray House originally housed the military officers’ quarters of the Murray Barracks of the British forces stationed in Hong Kong. During World War II, Murray House was, for 44 months, a command center of the Japanese military police, a torture and interrogation center and also the execution place for some Chinese citizens.

Murray House

Starting in 1965, the building was used as offices by several government departments including the Rating and Valuation Department. Believed to be haunted, exorcism ceremonies were held in the building in 1963 and 1974 (televised). During the 1970’s and 1980’s, the local economy took flight and the plot of land on which Murray House stood became valuable property. In 1982, Murray House was dismantled to give way to the new new Bank of China Tower and, for 15 years, more than 3,000 blocks of the building were labeled and cataloged for future restoration and stored in Tai Tam. However, some raw materials like chimneys were lost during the demolition.

Historical plaque

Eventually, a permanent home by the sea was found here in Stanley but the whole redevelopment project was a challenge that took substantial manpower and resources. Just like toy building blocks, the granite blocks were reassembled, their positioning precisely calculated. The building was reopened on April 2, 2001.

The author at Murray House

Today, Murray House, a major milestone in Hong Kong’s heritage restoration history and an important icon at Stanley, houses some fine restaurants that offer different international gourmet food at the first and second floors. The ground floor, which once housed the Hong Kong Maritime Museum (established in 2005, then moved to Pier 8 in Central in February 2013),.has a long corridor, in the middle of which is a little exhibition of Murray House’s history. The first level has heavy stone walls with flat arched openings while the second and third levels have lighter Doric  and Ionic columns to allow better ventilation. in response to the Hong Kong’s subtropical/monsoons climate, all floors have verandas on all sides.

View of the waterfront

Murray House: 96 Stanley Main St, StanleyHong Kong.

How to Get There: From Central’s Exchange Square, take buses No.6, 6A, 6X, 260 or 262. From Causeway Bay’s Tang Lung Street (Corner of Percival Street and Hennessy Road), take green minibus No.40

Old Stanley Police Station (Hong Kong)

The two-storey, Colonial-style Old Stanley Police Station, built in 1859, is one of the earliest police stations in Hong Kong. Since all the other five have been demolished, it is now the oldest police station in Hong Kong.

Old Stanley Police Station

During the 1941-1945 Japanese Occupation, the building was used as the local headquarters of the Japanese gendarmerie. After the war, it was restored as a police station until 1974 when a new one was built.  It was then occupied by several government departments as their sub-offices until 1991. Thus commanding great heritage significance, it was gazette as a Declared Monument on June 15, 1984. In 2003, this building was converted into a supermarket.

Historical plaque

This building’s façade, with its Chinese tiled pitched roof, is dominated by a colonnaded open veranda. It was constructed, with load-bearing brick wall and timber joists, on a sloping site with random rubble retaining walls at the rear. Inside are wooden floors, dome-shaped ceiling (at the original gun room), windows with louvered shutters and several large, vintage,  cast-iron fireplaces.

Old Stanley Police Station: 88 Stanley Village Road, Hong Kong. Open daily, 8 AM – 10 PM.

How to Get There: From Central’s Exchange Square, take buses No.6, 6A, 6X, 260 or 262. From Causeway Bay’s Tang Lung Street (Corner of Percival Street and Hennessy Road), take green minibus No.40